By Tim Hauserman

As August comes to an end it’s easy to bemoan the loss of summer. The mornings are getting chilly, and our thoughts start to turn to the the colder days of autumn.  But put away that sad face, often September is the best month of the year. The weather is usually warm and dry. The bike riding, kayaking and boating are still available for the taking. And the best part is that while Tahoe is certainly not dead, there is now plenty of room to roam, the traffic headaches are gone, and the locals have big smiles on their faces because they’ve been waiting anxiously for the crowds to disappear in September since mid-July.

Now you can paddleboard at 9 am and not have to face all those boat wakes. You can go for a mountain bike ride with less dust. Ride your bike on the roads with fewer cars. Go backpacking in Desolation Wilderness and be able to find a quiet campsite.  Even go out to breakfast or dinner without having to worry about long lines. 

Later in September the leaves start to turn which makes for a whole new set of hiking and biking opportunities. Page Meadows, Marlette Lake, Ward and Blackwood Canyons, and Ophir Creek are some of my favorite leaf peeping places. And don’t miss the Kokanee salmon spawning at Taylor Creek, which happens from late September into early October. 

While September weather is most likely glorious, it is a bit less dependable then July. Keep your eye on the forecast and the hourly temperature readings. The days are shorter, the mornings are colder, and sometimes little storm fronts come rolling through and dump a good dousing of rain. Take that day off and enjoy the much needed wet stuff laying down the dust, then head out onto the freshly packed trails and enjoy. 

One of my favorite September activities is to go to the shore of the lake, look out over the still calm waters, breathe deep and enjoy that elusive sense that you don’t find often in the middle of the summer: quiet stillness. Ahh…

By Tim Hauserman 

One of my favorite bike rides in the Tahoe region is the Donner Lake to Cisco Grove route along Highway 40. The 42 mile ride has a bit of everything: Steep climbs and descents on Donner Pass, as well as plenty of time just to roll along and enjoy the view of the Yuba River between Norden and Cisco Grove. The road is lightly traveled, but there are a few spots along the way to pick up food and drink. And those views, they are absolutely sublime. 

I like to park my car at the east end of Donner Lake along the road. Why just ride along Donner Pass Road to the pass, when you could include a ride around Donner Lake as part of the package? I head into the park, and follow South Shore Drive to the southern edge of the lake. A few gentle miles and you are out of the park and then a short, steep climb, brings you into the residential area that you follow along the lake to West End Beach. There, a left turn onto Donner Pass Road/Highway 40 begins the three mile climb to the top of the pass. It’s steep, but just put it in first gear, and enjoy the endless views of massive granite faces dotted with climbers, or Donner Lake shimmering below. Give your lungs a break at the viewpoint just before the Rainbow Bridge. 

From the top, Highway 40 crosses the Pacific Crest Trail and cruises past Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. It’s generally downhill past Soda Springs and Norden to the crossing of Interstate 80 where the descent gets steeper and the road less traveled. In what seems like a hop, skip and a jump you roll through Kingvale, and the grades eases, with a mostly gentle descent past Rainbow Lodge and to the turn around spot at Cisco Grove.  

The way back is always a puzzle. Wait, it wasn’t that long on the way down was it? Or steep? Especially the few miles from Kingvale to Norden seem like an eternity. But eventually, you reach the pass, where the wild downhill begins. The good news is that if you are cruising along at 25 miles an hour, there is a pretty good chance you will not encounter any cars. But those views…

At Donner Pass Road, go straight this time and find your own little mini pier on Donner Lake to jump into and wash off all that sweat and grime you accumulated in 40 miles. Now, you are refreshed and ready for a nap…I mean the rest of your day.